sometimes called marigold
Product Notes: Calendula flowers have a slightly bitter and somewhat salty flavor, and a sweet, sharp, buttery aroma.
Calendula has been used an herbal remedy and as coloring and flavoring for food in Central and Southern Europe since the 1100s. Commonly known there as marigold, calendula is an annual flower native to the northern Mediterranean countries. It's well known for its skin-soothing properties — this gentle herb is used as an ingredient in all types of skin care preparations, including salves, body washes, creams, ointments and lotions.
To use calendula in medicinal recipes, you often must start with an infused oil. This oil can then be blended into creams and salves for topical use.
Calendula Infused Oil
- Wash one cup fresh calendula petals. Chop coarsely and put in a small saucepan.
- Just cover calendula with vegetable or olive oil and heat over very low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally. You only want to warm the petals to release their oils.
- Allow to cool and pour into glass jars. Place in a dark, cool area for a week. Then strain mixture into a new jar. Store in a cool, dark location.
You can also put fresh petals in a jar of oil in the sun for two weeks to create a solar-infused oil. Make sure the jar is tightly covered and strain the oil after those two weeks. For a stronger infusion, add more flowers to strained oil and let sit in the sun for two more weeks. Strain and store.
NOW TO THE SALVE....
- Blend four parts infused oil and one part melted bees wax. You may adjust the amount of oil and beeswax to create the consistency you want. salves are made by adding ¼ cup of beeswax to one cup of infused oil. Heat until the beeswax has melted.
- Pour into a wide jar and cover. This mixture will thicken into a salve that you can use for burns and abrasions. It is also useful for diaper rash and other skin ailments.
The Plant: Calendula is valued both as a natural remedy and as a colorful garden flower. This two-foot-tall, hardy annual can grow quite bushy, and its large, two- to three-inch flowers (which range from yellow to bright orange in color) are attractive additions to borders. Calendula blooms continuously throughout the winter in warmer climates and throughout the summer in the north. Cooler temperatures and picking the flowers promotes more flowering, while high heat in summer will stress the plant and stop flowering.
The parts of the plant used are the flower heads — harvested while they are in full bloom — or the petals (ligulate florets), which are removed from the receptacle after harvesting.
Calendula flowers open in the morning and close in the late afternoon. They are of the highest quality when harvested late morning after the dew is dried off of the flowers — this is when the resin content is at its highest. When handpicking calendula, the flowers' dark tacky resin clings noticeably to the fingers.
Calendula has anti-inflammatory effects when it is used topically and it is also a potent antioxidant. Because of its antiviral and antibacterial qualities, it is also useful in treating minor wounds and abrasions.
The petals of calendula are often added to salads as well. Their bright orange color is an attractive contrast to salad green and their slightly bitter flavor compliments the other vegetables.
When cooked, the flavor mellows. Calendula can be used much like saffron by adding it to rice and pasta dishes.ds, main course dishes, and even dessert.
Calendula tea is easy to make. Simply put a couple of teaspoons of calendula petals in an infuser and pour a cup of boiling water over it. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.
Sweeten if desired and drink for minor digestive irritation or use the tea as a wash for minor wounds.
There are two methods of making soap.
'Cold process' is the term used to describe the traditional method of soap making and this is when oils such as palm or coconut oil are mixed with an alkaline solution and this reaction causes the oils to saponify and form soap. This is actually relatively easy to do at home, a new type of soap making known as 'melt and pour' has made making soap at home much more accessible.
Melt and pour soaps are blocks of glycerin soap base that can be melted down in a domestic kitchen, have fragrances and other additives included and then poured into molds to set. Melt and pour soaps come in clear and opaque form and there is now an organic version. These work extremely well with calendula petals. This is very straightforward to do, simply add some petals before pouring the melted soap into molds and stir them in well.
Constituents of Note: There are a number of potentially significant constituents in calendula. Triterpene glycosides (guercetin, isohamnetin), triterpene alcohols and triterpene saponins are major components. Carotenoids including beta-carotene, lycopene, violaxanthin and lutein are responsible for the color of the flowers and for the use of calendula as a food coloring. Other constituents include a small amount of essential oil (60% alpha-cardinal), flavonoids (narcissan) and a bitter principle (calendnin).
Quality: Marigold flowers have a slightly bitter and somewhat salty flavor and a sweet, sharp, buttery aroma. Not more than 2% other plant parts should be present — including sepals and the fruits (seeds).
Whole flowers (with the receptacle) should be carefully inspected to make sure they are properly dried as the receptacle dries much slower than the petals and can cause mold problems.
Calendula flower petals do not have this problem.
Good quality dried flowers have a slightly oily feel to them when rubbed between the fingers.
The flowers quickly fade when exposed to light, so they should always be stored in dark conditions. They also readily absorb moisture, which degrades the flowers, so calendula needs airtight storage, especially in humid conditions.
While both the whole calendula flowers and calendula petals are used interchangeably, the petals are considered superior for use in most applications.
Between single-petaled, double-petaled, yellow-colored and orange-colored varieties, there is not, as of yet, consensus on which is the best — or even if one type is better than another.
Herbs have to be considered outstanding in at least two of three categories—medicinal, culinary or decorative.
Calendula is outstanding in all three categories and well deserving of the title.
Many herb organizations, herb companies, retail stories and herb societies recognize the herb of the year and support public education on the chosen herb, throughout the year.
Directions: To make calendula skin care oil, place one cup of calendula flower petals (petals are better than whole flowers for this use) in a non-reactive container such as a glass jar. Cover with one cup of vegetable oil (a high quality oil such as extra-virgin olive oil or almond oil makes a good base), stir well, adding more oil if needed to keep the calendula completely submerged and the jar full.
To extract using the sun, place container in a bag or box to keep out the sunlight, then place in the sun for a week. Stir contents daily. Or alternately, put calendula and oil in a crock pot or other thermostatically controlled container. Keep crock pot on the warm setting, stirring several times a day, making sure the mixture does not get too hot (over 110 F.) and replacing oil as needed. When the oil takes on the color and aroma of the calendula (about a week), strain out all of the flowers, squeezing them well to remove as much of the oil as possible. Place in a glass jar and let stand for a few days to let any sediment remaining in the calendula oil fall to the bottom of the jar. Draw oil off the sediment and store in a tightly sealed glass container. Keep in a cool, dark place. Use the oil as a massage, skin care oil or as a base for salves. Adding a little vitamin E to the finished calendula flower oil will help increase its shelf life. Scenting the calendula oil with synergistic essential oils such as lavender and geranium enhances the benefits of the calendula oil.
A gentle but powerful herb, calendula flowers can used on damaged, sensitive, chafed or irritated skin. Calendula is often combined with other herbs such as comfrey leaf, aloes, St. John’s wort and lavender flowers.
In foods, calendula petals are sometimes used as a substitute for saffron, to provide a similar color to saffron and somewhat mimic the rich flavor of saffron. The spicy flavor of calendula is used to season baked goods such as breads and cakes, egg dishes, soups and fish and to decorate desserts.
Of gourmet interest are such treats as calendula butter, calendula vinegar and calendula salad dressing.
Historically calendula was also used to color butter and cheese.
Another great recipe.....
Have a backyard bed of marigolds? Share some with guests the next time you entertain by adding them to a cream cheese dip. It's a surprisingly delicious appetizer.
MARIGOLD CHEESE DIP
8 Servings Prep: 10 min. + chilling
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced chives
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh savory
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh marigold petals
- Assorted crackers
- In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, salt and
- pepper until smooth. Stir in the chives, savory and marigold petals.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with crackers.
- Yield: 2 cups.
Nutritional Facts: 1 serving (2 tablespoons) equals 160 calories, 15 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 51 mg cholesterol, 173 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 3 g protein.
Calendula flowers are an ingredient in hair rinses, shampoos, shaving creams and deodorants. In shampoo and hair rinse, calendula is added to formulas made for light-colored hair as it helps to brighten blonde or red hair. A dye for fabric can also be extracted from the flowers.
Caution/Safety: The Botanical Safety Handbook* classifies Calendula as:Class:1 herbs which can be safely consumed when used appropriately Per the German Commission E Monograph** for calendula flower, there are no known contraindications, side effects or drug interactions. People who are allergic or sensitive to other members of the Asteraceae family, such as daisies or ragweed, should exercise caution until they have established they do not have a reaction to calendula flowers.